Days after the death of prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the breath of the United States Embargo against Cuba is presently before Congress. What may surprise you, however, is that the issue is being raised by Section 211 (a)(2) of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1998, which is not about human rights, but rather about trademarks. Specifically, Section 211 is about whom can use trademarks and is a product of the Havana Club controversy. And while the issue has been litigated for years and in several countries, Section 211 is designed to protect trademarks that belonged to businesses whose assets were confiscated by the Cuban government after the communist revolution of 1959 and establishes that no court in the United States may recognize any claim regarding trademarks and commercial names related to properties confiscated by the Cuban government. The change was challenged by the European Union and ultimately criticized by the World Trade Organization when it was first introduced.
The present debate however, given the political climate may call into question the US Embargo and the purpose of its Intellectual Property carve out and as such promises to be a historic one. To read more click here.